Palythoa (Palythoa sp.)
Family: Zoanthidae (Colonial Anemones)
Habitat: Shallow high flow and mix areas of reefs.
Light: High Water Flow: High Space: 1+ gal.
Reef Safe: Yes Care Level: Easy Temperament: Aggressive
Diet: Zoanthids have zooxanthellae but must also feed on plankton. They also likely directly absorb nutrients from the water.
Natural History: The Palythoa are a colonial genus that cover large tracts of reef. They incoroporate sediments from the substrate and ocean around them and may accumulate almost half of their body weight in collected materials in their mesoglea. The polyps are round flat discs with short tentacles around the rim. The polyps can actually produce aragonite crystals, but only in small amounts. They are most common on the shoreward side of reef crests. Common colors include cream, yellow, and brown. The Palythoa can dominate a reef by growing over their competitors.
Husbandry: Palythoa prefer moderate to strong water flow and bright light. Palythoa are very competitive and will kill most other species of corals that are housed too closely. They produce a very potent neurotoxin, secreted in their mucus, that can be deadly to humans. Care should be employed in handling them! They are aggressive through growth and can cover other corals.
AKA: Sea Mat, Button Polyps
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